Monday, January 28, 2008
Our government has (finally) announced that a 20,000-pound U.S. spy satellite has lost power and could hit the Earth sometime in February or March. The satellite can no longer be controlled. Not only that, but it contains unspecified hazardous materials. It was disclosed that the craft contains (among other things) hydrazine -- which is rocket fuel -- according to a government official who was not authorized to speak publicly but spoke on condition of anonymity. Hydrazine, a colorless liquid with an ammonia-like odor, is a toxic chemical and can cause harm to anyone who comes in contact with it. Apparently, nobody has a clue where the satellite could land when it comes down. This much (and no more) information was leaked on condition of anonymity because the information is classified as secret. We don't even know how long the satellite has been powerless and out of control. Well, it was good of them to expatiate that much, wasn't it? Hardly.
"Appropriate government agencies are monitoring the situation," a spokesman for the National Security Council said -- but not until after the situation was disclosed by other officials. That certainly doesn't make me feel any safer. You?
The secrecy issue seems to arise from the fact that (again), according to sources, an uncontrolled reentry could pose a risk of exposure of U.S. secrets. It is for that reason that spy satellites are typically destroyed by means of a controlled reentry into the ocean so that no one can access them.
Government spokesmen also said it is not feasible to shoot down the satellite with a missile. To do so would generate debris which, yes, also poses a risk of hitting the ground.
I believe that what we can deduce from all this is that there is a rogue satellite poised to fall to Earth sometime, somewhere, but nobody is willing to posit enough information to constitute a proper warning to that unlucky area. If it falls into the ocean or some uninhabited wilderness area, no problem. But what if it crashes, say, in the middle of New York City at rush hour? I guess anybody who gets whupped upside the head would be simply collateral damage. There are, of course, those areas which, if an object the size of a bus fell down and obliterated them, nobody would mind all that much. Thing is, they'd probably come out unscathed, much like cockroaches.
TWISTED LINGUISTICS feels like whupping up some Words Gone Wild today.
clearification - Zit removal procedure.
reign it in - Rule that country, Kingy-boy!
passify - To give someone a free pass in order to placate them.
falicitator - A rather lewd way of moving things along.